The Ultimate Guide to Everything You Didn’t Know About Abseiling

Learn the ropes, meet the best of the best, and follow the guides so you can do it too.

What is Abseiling?


Climb a tall building or mountain and “abseil” off it, as the German word refers. From Emily Woodhouse’s article, Great Britain and other countries all refer abseiling is what Americans call, “rappelling or scaling” and we love it! It’s not just for spelunkers (cave divers) and mountaineers (mountain climbers) anymore.

This is not freefalling or base-jumping.

Abseiling is an art; the art of a controlled descent off that outrageously tall structure like a mountain, a high rise, a cliff, or even an indoor rock wall, using a rope, protective gear, and vertical drop. 5 feet or 6000 feet. You choose your feat.

abseiler – a person who descends down a nearly vertical face by using a doubled rope that is wrapped around the body and attached to some high point

pinnacle of abseiling

Want to try? Most would say no but what if there were an intense satiation of achievement, a feeling of confidence, and power to own the experience? Own the fear of heights? Not to mention the captivating views are out-of-this-world?

Meet the best of the best!

Doris Long

Doris Long, a 101-year-old great-great grandmother was a Waterlooville, U.K. abseiling fundraiser guru for Rowan’s Hospice. Jenny Zhang’s article also shared her 328 feet (100 meter) Spinnaker Tower descent that raised over £15,000.

Doris set the Guiness Book of World Records for the “Oldest person to abseil” at age 100 and beat her record at 101. Her passion for abseiling started when she was 85 years old and she abseiled each year at different Portsmouth locales.

These special events received encouraging notoriety and were shared across the world as her hobby. The News reported she died at age 104 from natural causes at her home in Portsmouth.

According her interview with Independent, “I don’t feel afraid and I never have, I just have a placid nature.”

101 Doris Long breaks her own abseiling world record! – Daily Mail

Steve Truglia

Steve Truglia, a British high profile Hollywood stuntman for the infamous James Bond’s Tomorrow Never Dies and Mission Impossible’s Rogue Nation had an extensive filmography IMDb showcased. Truglia was definitely who you called to do the impossible and coordinated and performed stunts you could only dream about.

After 20 years of military training and specialized skills, his elite British military experiences in the SAS and SBS (U.K. Special Forces) led to this intense action career.

According The Guardian, Steve shared, “I’ve been doing this since 1996 and for me it’s the best job in the world. My whole life I’ve actually been training to be a stunt man without realising it. I’ve always loved extreme sports and I now I get paid for it.”

Many attributes to his powerful and optimistic view were shared.

The Sun reported Steve Truglia died at age 54 in China when he raced a fellow stuntman off the same helicopter with unsafe equipment (wet ropes) in bad weather, despite similar past challenges. He fell 300 feet.

As a TED speaker, he emphasized safety. 

Enjoy TED daredevil feats and future endeavors with Steve Truglia.

Steve Truglia: A leap from the edge of space

Carrie-Ann Lightley

Wheelchair abseilers experience the descent in the comfort of their manual or electric wheelchairs.

Carrie-Ann Lightley shares about the view of Bassingthwaite Lake from her ropes and the Lake District Trust that enables these experiences to individuals with disabilities in the U.K.

Accessible Derbyshire is one option with the Duke’s Barn Organization locale that operates to serve accessible needs. The Journal out of Dublin, Ireland reports how people with all ranges of impairments, physical, or intellectual disabilities can feel the same equality and freedom of the sport.

Rope Access Technicians

Rope Access Technicians dangle to construct, inspect, maintain, repair, and clean the tallest buildings and structures, and they enjoy it.

The job qualifications are rock climbing, abseiling, and a military background. The fitness levels of endurance, agility, and ability (manage height fears), are a must.

Martin Castle Limited has these requirements and a leveled system to be trained and qualified as other U.K. and Australia companies will: AvalonPro Abseiling, Alltech Abseilers, Abseilers United, and then Rigzone is a job search site.

Wind turbine painting via PSW

rope access jobs

You can Internet search, “rope access jobs,” “abseiler jobs,” “industrial rope access jobs,” and Skills reports a search for “industrial rope specialists” too.

In 2015, The Globe and Mail reported a three-tier training level system others call SPRAT, and pay per hour, ascending with the skill level. A level three abseiler technician can make $35-60 per hour plus additional skills and more complex jobs have even higher pay on top of overtime.

Fox news shared Abseilon’s Rope Access Technician and CEO.

Taking jobs in America to a whole new level

Pipe repair via Dror Stolarsky.

steel pipe replacement Dror Stolarsky Rope Access experts Israel Naharia hospital job

United Kingdom British Secial Forces

The United Kingdom British Special Forces (UKSF) includes five areas of specialized training: Tier 1- The Special Air Service (SAS), The Special Boat Service (SBS), Tier 2 – The Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR), the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG), and the UKSP Signals Regiment.

Extremely specialized UKSF are the Elite UK Forces: The Parachute Regiment, Pathfinder Platoon, Royal Marines Commandos, RAF/AAC/ Fleet Air Arm Special Forces Flights, Elite Artillery, and the RAF Regiment.

Abseiling is part of the strategic training for the UKSF SAS and SBS.

This means as an Elite UKSF operative, you will be trained with these techniques as the Royal Marines will show in the video the marines switch from abseiling to fast-roping then back to abseiling when he realizes the rope is too short.


A famous action scene technique in action movies of James Bond and Mission Impossible.

Special forces . Rapel 12. Front abseiling

103 Military Dog Squadron

The 103 Military Dog Squadron and handler, Lance Cpl. Welstand are abseilers for the special forces counter-terrorist operations. The squadron of highly intelligent and trainable breeds are, Belgian Malinois or Mali, for short.

The dogs have military armor and abseil or parachute over 10,000 feet with the handlers, to attack ground forces. A squad of 12 dogs is the advancing SAS tactic for special circumstances.

U.S. Armed Forces

The U.S. Armed Forces have four branches: The Army, Marines, Navy, and the Coast Guard.

All four branches have rappelling/abseiling training based on the boot camp and specialized area the military cadet or civilian will enter the branch of service with.

Special Forces’ rappelling tactics are similar to the SAS and SBS abseiling techniques. Rappelling tactics will often be seen in training videos, using the rappel or the fast-roping technique that does not always involve vertical structures (cliff, building, etc.) to base or jump off of.

There is often a vertical drop from a moving target (helicopter) with attached ropes that are thrown out the side in order for the trained individuals to descend with. The U.S. refers to fast-roping as a form of safer and faster rappelling method in military training if the descent is vertical and there is enough rope.

From SeuthSayers, “Viewed from a distance, Rappelling and Fast-Roping from helicopters can look very similar. In both cases, people slide down ropes that hang out of helicopters. But the person rappelling is usually attached to the rope by a D-ring or snap-link, while a fast-roper is only attached by hands and feet.”

Air Guardsman – Rappelling and Fast Rope Use

Air Assault Course – Rappelling Phase

How to Get started?

Step No. 1 – Get your head thinking – Do it!

rappelling down cliff face

Abseiling is a sport. You can make it your next hobby.

Your excitement and interest level still have your eyes glued to this article because maybe you feel the need to try out abseiling.

Make it a point to go all-in and do this. People of all ages, skills, and abilities are capable of getting amazing benefits from abseiling. You can too. While you may not be at the level you noticed from the best of the best, everything happens in time.

Your skill level will increase so start at the beginning so you learn the way you are comfortable, how you want to learn, and with who you want to learn from. Gaining a new interest or hobby is All-About-What-You-Want.

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Step No. 2 – Up Your vocabulary and term knowledge

Know basic rock climbing/abseiling terms the following guides will use. Lindsay Walsh with Mpora, created an amazing list of Definitions/Essential Terms and the Cool of the Wild created 63 terms is a great resource. You should use both sources to start.

Other words you may not know and can be geographic lingo: lower off, ab/bed off, offset, knots, tie your block, rope the block, sling and krab, friction of the rope, sling and carabiner, the brown stuff, and landward side.

This way you know what the guides, techniques, and climbers all show and tell you. YOU will know what THEY are talking about and YOU will know what YOU are talking about when YOU ask THEM questions. Got it?

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Step No. 3 – Watch many videos to SEE what abseiling looks like

You could read all day about how to do something and understand but with the Oklahoma State (in the US) research on the Cone of Experience on page 3, individuals will learn 50% more if they use both sight and sound. They learn 80-90% more if they hear, see, and do so watch and listen to everything about abseiling then do it.

Learn about the methods, rappels via Ascension, knots, techniques, storage via Storefront, and everything you think you need. The “abseiling POV” web search shows first-person experiences that are not for the weak and may cause motion sickness. As for the best time, the Pegasus notes to the best time to abseil in the summer or spring and early in the morning.  

Abseiling Guides:

men in middle of rock face

1. Beginner’s Guide from Mpora, is a beginner read into the sport. The videos and the techniques are helpful with large color images. Abseiling Techniques is another great article. Specwar also shares these techniques.

2. Abseiling Complete Beginner’s Guide from Much Better Adventures explains a deeper base knowledge.

3. How to Abseil is a VDiff article taken from the book, Traditional (Trad) Climbing Basics sold at Amazon, for a kindle or paperback. The skill level jumps to learning about the safety of using the anchors, tying knots, and abseiling in a step-by-step process.

4. Moja Gear offers the 25 Best Rock-climbing Books with US and UK prices for Amazon here

How to abseil

Brett Rap Jumping/Forward Abseiling

Step No. 4 – Start exercising like abseilers

Have you ever watched obstacle course or military competition programs like American Gladiators, Ninja Warrior, The Titan Games, Ultimate Beastmaster, Fear Factor (heights), Wipeout, and Splatoon?

The performers have upper body strength to raise and lower themselves, fit through unimaginable spaces, and use ropes and pulleys to manage their way to the success of a finish line.

No, you don’t need to look like them but even with cardio being great, your arms and legs need something special.

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Train those arms and thigh to work and stretch differently to limit the muscle strains, cramps, and injuries.

Rock climbers bend and sway their bodies, soldiers are in top body condition, individuals with wheelchairs have upper body strength, and everyone else like us need to learn to use our muscles to our weight and balance.

Why the exercises? Most likely you will be climbing up something to abseil down it. The best learning strategy is to learn the entire workout and strengthen your core. Abseiling is controlling the vertical descent so you control the pace and direction your body descends.

Exercise Guides:

A newbie guide is The Rock Climbing Gym exercises from Mpora and has hilarious visuals.

For men: Men’s Journal has an ultimate workout involves rock climbing and conditioning the body and mind to achieve results.

How to Do Mountain Climbers Properly – Great Core Exercise for Beginners

For women: Women’s Health has a complete guide to build strength includes simple arm and leg strength training techniques.

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Step No. 5 – Know how much abseiling will cost

Every hobby has costs and they range in time, effort, and price as currency. The level of the activity, interest, destination (U.K., U.S., Australia, etc.) will determine the price. Soccer, football, tennis, and motocross are all sports with costs for a variety of these reasons.

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RockClimbing Central Costs: per hour/per session/per day/per skill

  • Learn about the sport (time and cost with books/videos)
  • Physical/mental training (indoor/outdoor) Mental control over the fear of falling.
  • Buy the equipment and clothing/shoes or rentals
  • Health costs if overextend body or unsafe. You will get bumps and bruises.
  • Travel to the destinations (gas, airfare, train, walk) to rock wall, mountains, and training sites).
  • Specialization skill (hiking, rock climbing, abseiling) individual or as a package
  • Trainers (level and duration needed)
  • Outdoor/Adventure (Outdoor Discoveries) individual/group packages of 6 or less or 7 or more
  • Travel and abseil with your gear at your leisure
  • Cost of recuperation (R and R)

Step No. 6 – Know how many hours for proficiency 

All sports require training to some level of ability for a training course. Abseiling has three proficiency levels starting with the basics at Level 1, then Level 2 as an intermediate, and Level 3 for experts.

Each level varies in training hours from the U.K with abseiling to the U.S. with rappelling. 

An orientation averages 3 hours, Level 1 ranges 7-10 hours, Level 2 ranges 8-16 hours, and Level 3 ranges up from that with specializations. Programs vary on these training hours.

Step No. 7 – Where to become proficient

man rappelling hanging by a rope

The companies that offer prophecies are plentiful. Trust your instincts and do your homework when choosing the best option to get your abseiling training. Numerous companies across the world including the U.S. offer basic to highly skilled certifications depending on what you want, need, and are willing to pay for to be elite.

Abseiling skill jobs with the military, tactical units, rock climbers, and rope access technicians/specialists, all offer continual training, accelerated programs, and higher certifications.

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Wait to be hired by companies needing these skills to really get your skills boosted.

Whether you want to learn at an indoor rock wall gym, a mountaineering adventure company, or with tactical/job-related companies, the options are abundant. It was easier to find a job company or tactical training program for abseiling in more places in the U.K. and U.S. 

Most people do not want to travel 1000 or more miles to train so take my information as a guide to start with and find some place local.

Abseiling Proficiency Course Level 1 (or Singapore National Abseiling Standards Level 1 runs for 14 hours or 2 7-hour sessions with 1:10 or 1 instructor per 10 trainees (all ages).

Innotrek offers 1 and 2 level proficiency abseiling programs. I would highly recommend a multiple level system from the same company for consistency.

All Adventure People School in Singapore offers an orientation and multiple level abseiling proficiency training program.

Wildfire Expeditions in Singapore offers a Standards Certification.

IRATA in the UK offers a complete 3 system of Rope Access Training.

Vertical Adventures in California, U.S. offers a wide range of leveled courses and certifications involving rock climbing, knots, recue, anchors, leading, and crack climbing techniques in the environment or big walls.

For more adept proficiency skills, individuals can do multiple abseils.

How to: multiple abseils part one

Step No. 8 – Get your equipment

abseiling down building

Equipment will include everything you need to abseil safely.

Whether you want your own gear or rent it at the destination or training facilities, the quantity and level of quality you will need are your first priorities. Brand name does not always equal quality.

Your safety is more important than buying the cheapest and untested gear for sale.

Bypass the broken, chipped, and tethered items for extra strength, multiple layers, and tougher metals. A huge bit of advice if you read about Steve Truglia (stuntman and ex UKSF) is to properly store your gear so it does not get damaged.      

Step No. 9 – Where to abseil


The Rap Jumping Blog shares 7 Amazing Best Abseiling Feats if you are thinking of a challenge. These famous abseiling events made records and are not for the squeamish. Know your gear and your skills if you choose this path.

Beautiful destinations:

Mpora created a list of 10 of the World’s Best Drops for abseiling. The list is not a travel website like Awe, Manawa, and 100% Pure New Zealand (below) are.

If fact, it is a checklist of possible destinations you can research for travel and abseiling adventure packages.

Mountain Skills Climbing Guides offer rappels in the Gunks, Adirondacks, and Delaware Water Gap in the U.S. with 12 rock climbing programs. The 2-hour sunset rappel into the Gunks sounds amazing. The 200 feet free hang over the Hudson Valley sound spooky at the sun disappears.

The trip starts at 5pm to gear, lift, and rappel you. Evening abseiling is one of the key points here.

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U.K. abseiling adventures are offered on the How Stean Gorge site for gorges and waterfalls in Yorkshire.

The abseiling experiences offer 4 choices to abseil from: caving, rock climbing, gorge walking/ghyll scrambling, and canyoning. Either way, the four descent choices list 45 feet for the bridge and 3 hours for rock climbing. This is a destination booking site.

Awe offers your next abseiling travel package in the lovely U.K. The Sussex abseiling experience is a 2-hour trip and challenge the abseiler off a 30-foot tower with highly skilled instructors.

The price per person is listed for East Grinstead, England, Europe, United Kingdom, West Sussex. Lunch is not included but if you bought those Stasher bags in my equipment recommendations above, then you have food.

Manawa website offers Abseiling: all destinations here. You can search the six top choices, or all of them from around the world.

Each destination provides you with an abundance of choices to customize your abseiling experience. Prices per person are included. Check the abseiling box first!

100% Pure New Zealand offers abseiling/rappelling travel packages here and is a complete tour guide of information and travel accommodations. Each travel choice includes Australian destination regions and places with prices.


The article detailed job companies that specialized in hiring and training rope access technicians and specialists.

Rope Access System is a job posting site for businesses to post jobs and individuals to submit resumes, get interviews, and get hired. Rope access technician jobs are available in these U.S. cities: Texas, Louisiana, California. Indiana, and Illinois on the first page of this basic search.

Like the specifics of the section, we read about earlier in the article, the technician requires a level system qualification. In some of these posts, the “urgently hiring” tab is available with higher pay.

Pacific Ropes or PacRobe is a company offering jobs in 8 fields including Geotechnical and Oil & Gas. The site lists job details of each area to fully understand the area you will be hired into. An example is Telecom with repairs and installs to antennas, transmitters, and tower structures. Another example is Geotechnical with rock scaling. If you have the skill, or desire to be trained in abseiling in these fields then these jobs are for you.

What Equipment to Use?

rappelling down cliff face

You will need a few things

Two abseiling articles shared their abseiling equipment necessities list so get the items from both lists for a complete kit: offers a list of exactly what you need:

Climbing helmet and each best brands to buy  Durable gloves see reviews and each best brand to buyComfortable climbing shoes see reviews and each best brand to buy
Rappelling harnessRappelling ropeHiking pants
Belay deviceKnife on a lanyardRappel rings

Mora’s article, Rock Climbing & Abseiling Equipment | 10 Pieces Of Gear You Should Own, offered these additional choices:

Accessory cordClimbing rope protectorClimbing & Abseiling helmet
CarabinersProtection (anchors)Rope bag
Climbing & Abseiling guidebook  

99Boulders recommends a few more choices:

Chalk and chalk bagNut toolSlings
Climbing tapeClimbing brushClimbing pack
Trak padCrash pad 

(free image from has specialized rappelling equipment if you want to go that route. See here.

My list:

Stasher bagBackpackAbseiling stickers from Redbubble

Shop here to get started offers Amazon Prime shipping for a low yearly cost. I highly recommend this service because shipping for each item adds up even if they are all shipped together, the packages get heavy. Free Delivery, fast delivery, and their exclusive deals ONLY for Amazon Prime members are available.

Here are 3 items to get you started.

1st Choice2Nd Choice
PETZL – Sirocco, Ultra-Lightweight Climbing and Mountaineering Helmet $139.95  Black Diamond Half Dome Climbing Helmet $74.00
Prices taken from Rappelinfo Best Climbing Helmets 2021
Liberty Mountain Rappel Glove $38.36Petzl Cordex PLUS Gloves for Climbers $49.95
Prices taken from Rappelinfo Best Climbing Gloves 2021
Climb X Apex Climbing Shoe (2019) $89.95 for menLa Sportiva Solution Climbing Shoe Men’s. $180.00
Black Diamond Momentum Climbing Shoe – Women’s $64.95-149.12 For womenSCARPA Women’s Origin Wmn Climbing Shoe $61.72-99.00 For women
Prices taken from Rappelinfo Best Climbing Shoes 2021

Resources: Everything Else You want to Know


Abseiling is definitely a well-trained and multifaceted skill. Contact a training facility, company, or ex-military personnel who are all highly skilled abseilers and decide who to train you.

The information about this sport is plentiful with sites and hundreds of videos are available on YouTube. Find sources that are safe.

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This BMC article about qualifications is relevant to being experts who will need specific training when you seek them for advice, book their trainings, and arrive for their tour packages. Do your research and know the skill level of the one or ones who you will be abseiling with.

Experiences from happy abseilers who love it!

What I noticed on nearly every site were the comments showcasing customer feedback. These are good reads that often rate the experiences. Find places with positive ratings.

In the current Covid-19 epidemic, people are still traveling and many of them are abseiling. You are in close contact for a longer time with the rocks and ropes more than other individuals.

Abseiling is a good choice of a hobby to explore at this time then leave some positive posts.

Customer satisfaction from repeatable business with extensively trained instructors will be the deciding factor for safe and your repeatable abseiling adventures.

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Questions and forums

The best places to answer your questions about abseiling are to contact the instructors and adventure guides. They know their skills and hopefully you followed this article to learn the lingo to better articulate your thoughts to them.

Talk to the ones who will be with you through the experience.

A travel destination guide may refer you to contact via email and get an appointment so, do it. Most of the sites in this article have question areas and contacts.

Forums are also an amazing feature because the people share their detailed experiences and refer information that may be especially unknown such as tricks to the trade. There may be special discounts and deals on shopping for the equipment.

These site additions can help educate such with UKC here with asking basic knowledge questions. The skill level in questions and responses is categorized in many forums to search, write, and find relevant topics of interest.


The articles relied on safety for a major aspect of the sport. One mistake of improperly storing gear or looping the rope into the wrong knot would be disastrous.

Each technique and method exist for a reason so ask questions and read the manuals or watch the learning videos.

There are so many experts and they reiterate the reason for safety because the chance of accidents and close calls are not options. Go with certified guides to areas that are part of the experience and not desolate, dangerous “new” spots.  

One video I did not include was a first year abseiler with three successful drops and he was videorecording with a phone and selfie stick. Abseiling is a hands-on sport. You can guess what happened. There are probably many appropriate quotes for safety but in all, just know where your hands and feet are at all times. You must pay attention and know an abseiling accident is not reversible.                                   

Other hobbies often explored by abseilers

Other incredibly interesting hobbies you will need to check out: bungee jumping, zip lining, snowboarding, paragliding, and parachuting, and zorbing. Abseiling/rappelling is a hidden secret hobby.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional abseiler and only here to provide unbiased information about the sport/hobby. Be responsible and safe in any risk-taking activity you pursue. In no way should you compromise your safety and rush or challenge as a race, the act of abseiling is a safety-first consideration, especially at the heights it requires.